In my estimation, a lot of folks believe the Christian message on hearsay. They read a book about Jesus, listen to a radio program, watch a televangelist, or hear it from the pulpit. They never get face-to-face with the Bible. I have not met a Christian in years that has read the Bible from cover to cover. I’m just sayin’.
Of those that really read the Word and try to understand it, many come at it from an intellectual angle. Everything has to line up, make sense, be proven, and fit their brand of logic. And the difficulties that remain, they find a way to explain them away. These are the same folks that spend time and energy on determining if Adam and Eve had belly buttons, or want to prove whether Noah cleaned the poop out of the ark during or after their time at sea.
The Bible has some unanswered questions!
Then I find the fundamentalist that believe everything is literally true. They even try to live out the Old Testament law by using the Jewish dietary laws, having church on the Sabbath which is Saturday and the like. They spend their time pointing out what others do that isn't Bible.
Romans 3:27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
Then I often wonder about the “experiential” Christians. They find ways to rationalize away all the parts of the Bible that they have never seen God do for them. Usually, they have a few answered prayers and a salvation experience and not much more. These are the ones that truly doubt until they've seen it. They supposedly take everything on faith – which is a limited view because they will have to have experienced it themselves. Faith believes in that which is unseen!
James 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind
Then there are the symbolic Christians. Everything in the Bible is some sort of philosophical lesson , or symbol of something nice - all with a life application. Paul was blind and then he saw. Therefore; we should open our eyes and be like Paul. Those types of analogies get pretty old because they put it all on us. We are to open our eyes, not have God illuminate His wisdom to us.They are like curious George books – it is the same format over and over with a different conflicts.
Apart from godly revelation, the Bible is powerless.
Bible worshippers – these are the ones that have to have verse for everything that happens. The see the book as terribly personal, yet it has no personal instructions about what job to pick, what wife to take, wisdom on how to ask for a needed raise at work – nothing. The Bible is very specific, and yet without God's revelation it is just religion.
Matthew 23:13 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Then there are the emotional Christians too. Basically if it feels good it must be God, and if it doesn’t, then it isn't. That certainly makes a lot of things in the Bible out of date. That or every bad thing is blamed on the devil. The letters of Paul to the Corinthians describe this in detail - even as faithful believers, they continued on in the pleasures of the flesh, having banquets and leaving others outside. In the church of Ephesus men did not work or take care of their families.
Remember you can't cast you, out of you.
You get the idea. We approach Christianity in various ways: intellectually, emotionally, legalistically and logically. Certainly, there are many that think those approaches are spiritual, but they are not. To top it off we filter the word with culture and personal preferences - a form of personal logic. We find it difficult to understand historical context when it applies, and to separate allegory, symbolism, prophetic, historical passages or correctly interpret the parables.
I guess what frosts my freezer bulb is that fact that there is no baseline for any of these approaches. I don’t remember Jesus sitting down to think it over, certainly He obeyed the laws, but when it came to loving others, he set religion aside. He never debated the laws, he proved them with love and power and wisdom. By revelation He interpreted the symbolic, the logical and the supernatural as well as pointing out the literal. And in the end, He said that He did what He saw the Father doing – oh, and that we could do greater things than He did.
There is only one way to approach God, and that is through a personal relationship. (Like the one in Song of Songs) If we don’t believe that God speaks, provides wisdom, heals, answers prayer and has encounters for us to partner with Him, we are screwed. Sadly, if that is the case, then we’ll have to enter into debate, argument, division and probably start a new denomination to experience God. it's unlikely.
If we believe that God will guide us into all truth, then we better start asking where we’ve gone astray. We can't all be right, nor can we all be following God. There are both tongues and interpretations or there isn't. There are New Testament prophets or there is not. We can pull out our Thompson Chain and start quoting, or we can seek God and find out why we’ve missed Him in relationship.
Why is all this important? Because the next generation appears to be conforming the Bible to strong cultural pressures. It’s been happening for a long time, but as we draw near to the end of the age, it will get worse and worse.
Here are some tough questions that the church needs to answer now, but it will be with action, revelation, and not with debate.
If we lovingly allow homosexual men and woman to attend our churches (and we should), will we change our biblical stance that this lifestyle is still sinful? The Church basically does not have an answer that looks anything like love to the gay community.
Will we allow scientific theory that is often taught as fact to influence our view of creation? How will we stand up to impeccable logic that is contrary to what we believe? Genetic engineers are able to fast track elements of the Theory of Evolution in the lab . I am not saying that what they may be able to produce could have occurred naturally in 60 billion years - but those "discoveries" may come.
Will we continue to identify with political parties that may have positions that are contrary to living a biblical lifestyle? Why does a conservative Christian have to be a Republican and one who is for social justice a Democrat? Can't we admit that both parties stand for things that are unbiblical?
Will we continue to allow an inept governments to do the work of the church when it comes to feeding the poor, caring for widows, wayward teens, and those in prison? This is a hot button issue for me - is it easier to vote for a pro-abortion candidate because they give food to the poor?
Sure, they are tough questions, but I see the move towards a political solution for social justice that will in fact cripple the church which promotes it.
Habakkuk 1:4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
In order for us to do God’s will we must see what He is doing. A good place to start is reading the Bible from cover to cover.
We must become doers of the word, and hearers of His voice - otherwise we are part of the problem. And that I'm right about.
Matthew 5:17 [ The Fulfillment of the Law ] "Do not think that I [Jesus] have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.